Thursday, February 19, 2009

UNBHockeyfans.com 2008-09 Regular Season Team Awards

For fun, we've decided to dish out some virtual hardware to recognize the efforts of the players this season. And since we're only counting the regular season, we're not going to wait until the end of the playoffs to announce our picks.

So agree, disagree, post your own in the comments section. As selected by a panel of 5 UNB hockey fans:

Top Forward: Hunter Tremblay. A lot of people thought he'd drop off after Hennigar left. For the second year in a row he put up 50 pts. He lead the team in +/-, was on the #1 power-play unit, killed penalties, drew the attention of the other teams' top shut-down guys, and still produced. He's also not one to avoid getting his hands dirty, taking big hits to make plays and dishing them out whenever he can, too. Not bad for a 2nd year player.

Top Defenceman: Dustin Friesen. He lead UNB defencemen in points, goals, and plus/minus (8 goals, 12 assists, 20 pts, +28) and lead the team in game winning goals. He was a stabilizing presence on the blueline in every game, and set the new UNB Ironman record for games played by a skater at 137. Oh, he also took 28 ceremonial face-offs for the team.

Team MVP: Dustin Friesen. (See above) Runner-up: Hunter Tremblay

Top Goaltender: It was a split decision, but we'll give the nod to Travis Fullerton, who after a shaky start and limited action in the first half put up stellar numbers in the 2nd half of the season. He only played 13 games which might not be enough for official AUS statistic recognition, but he would have led the conference in Goals Against, Save Percentage, and Shut-outs (GAA 1.80, Save% .914, SO 3). He tied a team record for 3 complete shut-out games (3, Reg Bourcier), set a record for shut-out minutes 292 minutes and 39 seconds, and may have set some AUS and CIS records too, though those stats aren't available.

Most Improved Player: Kevin Henderson. Henderson came to UNB last season and found duty on the 3rd line in more of a checking role. He put up a respectable 15 pts, but a lot of fans thought he was capable of doing more. This season several early injuries gave him the opportunity to play on the top line with Cuddihy and Tremblay, and he certainly made the most of it, leading the team in goals scored (19) and tied for the lead in points (50) with Hunter Tremblay.

Hardest Hitter: Chris Hodgson. Ask Boston College's Nick Petricki. Honourable mention to Jonathan Harty.

Rookie of the Year: Bretton Stamler. The rookie defenceman was solid in his own end, chipped-in 13 pts, was +20, and contributed a rare AUS fight. This was a close one, there were 3 runners-up, and Stamler got 2 votes.

Top Defensive Forward: John-Scott Dickson. We give him the nod over Hunter Tremblay on account of his relentless penalty kill efforts and unmatched shot-blocking skills. There were some nights where the shot count was low and Dickson made as many saves as the UNB goaltender.

Fan Favorite Award: Chris Hodgson. It's been awhile since UNB had an overwhelming physical presence in the forward ranks. Nothing generated cheers quite so much as when Hodgson would leave opposing forward's carcasses in a crumpled mass after a big hit along the boards. Judging by the way his teammates cheered when he scored a goal, we're guessing he's a favorite in the dressing room too. He showed a lot of improvement over last season, and his energy will be needed in the playoffs.

Unsung Hero Award: We're giving this one to Josh Hepditch. It must be hard as a veteran player to fight for ice-time on a team loaded with good players. It's probably even harder when you don't know what position you're playing some nights. Hepditch saw time as both a forward and defenceman this season, doing whatever he was asked to do. He's good enough to be starter every night on any other team in this league, but had no problem doing what was best for the team, even if that came at the expense of his own ice-time. Thanks Josh! Runner-up: Kyle Bailey.

Pts Leader (tie) Hunter Tremblay/Kevin Henderson (50 pts)

Goal Leader: Kevin Henderson (19 goals)

Best Plus Minus: Hunter Tremblay (+33)

Wins: Derek Yeomans (13 wins)

GAA: Travis Fullerton (1.80 GAA)

Save%: Travis Fullerton (.914)

Shut-outs: Travis Fullerton (3 so)

Hat Tricks: Kyle Bailey (2)

(stats courtesy of AUS stats webpage)

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